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School Massacres and the U.S. War Machine

By Bonnie Weinstein

Fight Back

Fightback!:
A Collection of Socialist Essays

by Sylvia Weinstein


There have been 18 school shootings since January 1, 2018— on average, three shootings per week—the latest, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, that killed 17 people and injured more than 15. No other country on the planet even comes close to these murderous statistics.

The shooter, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, was trained to shoot in that very school when he was in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. And, according to the U.S. Army JROTC Homepage1 “It is one of the largest youth programs in the world with more than 310,000 high school students participating annually…” and they are routinely taught to handle and shoot weapons. The program is an extension of the U.S. military and it has no place in our schools.

This devastating shooting, along with the 146 people that have been shot and killed by police so far in 2018 according to the a February 21, 2018 update in the Washington Post, has become the norm in this country. But it should be no surprise because the U.S. is the most violent country in the world.

U.S. military might

Make no mistake about it; war is a first priority for the United States. War is how capitalist imperialism settles disputes of power. If things don’t go the way the capitalists want it to, they kill those who stand in their way as they have done since the beginning of our country. And we working people are supposed to be in awe of this power.

The JROTC teaches the glories of U.S. wars to these students. They are taught to hail our generals as heroes for having the most mighty killing powers. This, they are told, is what makes our country great. And, indeed, the U.S. has the most powerful and the greatest number of weapons of mass destruction on the planet.

According to an April 24, 2017 Forbes article by Niall McCarthy titled, “The Top 15 Countries for Military Expenditure in 2016:”

“The United States remained at the top of the military spending league last year with $611 billion. That’s 36 percent of the global total and over three times the amount spent by second-placed China. Russia upped its outlay 5.9 percent to $69.2 billion, third overall…”

And according to nationalpriorities.org, the proposed military budget for 2019 accounts for 61 percent of Trump’s discretionary budget request in the amount of $727 billion. And this does not include national security spending in other departments like nuclear weapons in the Energy Department, Homeland Security or the portion of the federal debt caused by paying for war on the national credit card.

War as a way of life

We are justly horrified by these mass shootings—school shootings, gang shootings, police shootings—but we are immune to the tens-of-thousands of casualties of war perpetrated by the U.S. government on nearly every continent on the planet. We can’t ignore that the violence perpetrated by the U.S. military has set the stage for this violence here at home.

The U.S. capitalist class not only wages war, but wages assassinations by Special Forces, by drone strikes, that take out “enemy combatants” which most often turn out to be “collateral damage.” War doesn’t just kill “the enemy” it kills civilians—men, women and children who have no say in what their governments do any more than we, here in the U.S. do. We do not vote on war, on expenditures for the military, for nuclear weapons, or for “The Mother Of All Bombs.” That is not our prerogative. Our only choice is to vote for one warmonger over another—from Hillary to Trump.

Military grade weapons and the struggle against capitalism

From its very inception, the U.S. has outgunned and out-bombed those they labeled “the enemy” from the original inhabitants of this land; the enforcement of slavery; the arming of police; calling in the National Guard against unarmed workers in the early years of the U.S. labor movement; to the May 4, 1970 murder of four students and the wounding of nine more by the Ohio National Guard at Kent State University; and the murder of two students and wounding of 12 others by the city and state police May 15, 1970 at Jackson State College in Jackson, Mississippi during the Vietnam War. Not to speak of the millions of Vietnamese who were killed by the U.S. war machine. It took a massive antiwar movement to finally bring an end to the Vietnam War, which the U.S. lost.

The U.S. lost the war to the Vietnamese fighters who out-fought them. And American soldiers, sick and tired of the carnage and futility of the war, were refusing to continue to fight. At home, the antiwar protesters were clogging the streets in the hundreds-of-thousands in support of bringing the troops home now. We did not take up arms.

The American Civil Rights movement did, on occasion, take up arms in defense against white racist police and the KKK in response to the brutality of lynchings, beatings and bombing of Black school children attempting to integrate all white schools. Malcolm X had armed guards stationed in his defense when he spoke in public. Even Martin Luther King had weapons for self-defense. Self-defense is a human right. That doesn’t mean that people should be able to go to Wal-Mart and buy a tank, rocket, nuclear bomb or even a military-grade automatic weapon like the AR-15 that was used most recently in Florida that is meant to kill large numbers of people in a very short time.

The fight against violence has to be much broader

The NRA is the marketing/lobbying front for the military weapons industry, which is the supplier for all the wars the U.S. imperialists and their allies are engaged in directly or indirectly. In order to combat this violence, we must combat capitalism. We must demand that the world be disarmed—that weapons of death are not the answer to the social and humanitarian crisis that plague our planet.

We must demand that the vast sums of money and resources that are spent on weapons of mass destruction be spent, instead, on solving the economic and social inequalities that exist across the globe.

It is impossible to separate the violence that is occurring at an increasing rate on our streets from the massive U.S. military intervention in the world for the sole purpose of protecting the wealthy from the poor who vastly outnumber them. This is the sole purpose for war and weapons of mass destruction. It has nothing to do with “protecting democracy” since we have no democracy in this country that actually counts.

We must organize massive opposition to wars and killing as a way to solve social ills and put the blame where it belongs—on the system that perpetrates inequality as a way of life—capitalism.

How to win the war against war and injustice

Many on the left believe that the working class must arm ourselves in order to win the war against capitalism. And, of course, we must be able to defend ourselves against the brutality of the capitalist dictatorship. But the only way we can accomplish this is to organize workers into such a powerful, anti-capitalist, pro-socialist, unified force, that we are able to win the soldiers over to our side effectively disarming the capitalist class.

Ending capitalism and establishing socialism is the only way to end the violence that plagues the world today.



1 https://www.usarmyjrotc.com/